Vernon has been lucky, says mayor, as he pushes premier for Aberdeen Plateau fire mitigation

Vernon has 'got off lucky'

Vernon's mayor says the city has "got off lucky" when it comes to wildfires.

Victor Cumming caught the ear of Premier David Eby over the weekend to push for wildfire mitigation on the sprawling Aberdeen Plateau, where Vernon draws most of its drinking water from.

Eby was in town for a $100-a-plate party meet and greet and fundraiser at Silver Star Mountain Resort.

He also toured the city, hiked the Turtle Mountain trails, visited downtown businesses, and opened the Sundog Festival at Polson Park.

Cumming says the main topic of discussion was fire safety in light of destructive fires in the Okanagan and Shuswap this summer.

"The main issue, not just for the city, but for Greater Vernon, is reducing the fuel load on Aberdeen Plateau," says Cumming.

He also delivered that message during ministerial meetings during last week's UBCM convention in Vancouver.

Cumming met with Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman on the subject.

Vernon's council delegates also met with ministers on needed renovations to the Vernon courthouse and sought financial support for Vernon's forthcoming Active Living Centre, among other topics.

Cumming said the importance of the risk to Aberdeen Plateau cannot be understated.

"We've got off lucky so far," he said.

"If it does burn and we get a significant fire, we have very serious issues with our water."

Last year, Cumming said wildfire management on the Aberdeen Plateau is critical to avoid huge increases in water supply costs in the future.

Sixty per cent of Greater Vernon's water comes from the Aberdeen Plateau, with the remainder from Kalamalka Lake. Lake Country and the northeast part of Kelowna also obtain their water from the same plateau.

Cumming said he felt he made a "compelling argument" to Eby and Forests Minister Bruce Ralston.

The mayor also discussed the push for subsidized housing, and said cities cannot work alone to fill the housing gap.

Despite Vernon having success in adding housing units, Cumming said municipalities are "being asked to do more without the resources to do it."

Property taxes and direct fees are the city's only revenue sources, he said, pushing for greater provincial sharing of costs, such as with recent Vernon projects that have seen the city provide land while provide funds construction.

More Vernon News